With January in full swing, winter at full height and lockdown 3.0 back in force, we, as bakers are dedicated to making our communities feel mentally and physically strong. And a slice of sourdough may well be the solution. The field of nutrition has been investigating the role of our gut microbes, or ‘microbiome’ for a couple of decades, but it’s only recently that the importance of looking after our guts has become mainstream. Over the year’s researchers have discovered the role our microbiome plays in supporting our digestion, immunity and even our weight. The field of study has now moved on to show how our gut microbes can influence our mental health, and it’s fascinating. We’re probably all aware of the feeling of ‘butterflies in our tummy’ when we’re nervous or excited about something. Well there is a real connection between the brain and the gut. Scientists have found that particular strains of bacteria in the gut can influence our personality (1), and found that certain strains are more prevalent in people who suffer with depression (2). The reasons this is exciting is because we can influence our microbiome. What we eat has a direct impact on how supportive (or not) our gut microbes are for us.
This is where our loaves come in. In order to support our microbiome we need to feed them. ‘Prebiotics’ is the name we give to the food for our microbiome – a mix of different starches and fibres that support the beneficial microbes and keep them happy. In fact a recent study showed that ingesting a daily prebiotic supplement for three weeks had a positive impact on the participants’ moods and helped reduce anxiety and stress.(3). Prebiotics come from a wide variety of grains, seeds and vegetables. Wheat is particularly beneficial (studies show it can increase ‘bifidobacteria’ in the gut (4)) and rye also has a positive prebiotic effect. Our bread is full of prebiotic goodness and gut supporting fibre. The best way to maximise your intake is to vary your bread – so perhaps a slice of our Danish Spelt Sourdough loaf one day, and then a slice of our Seeded Sourdough another. You can further increase the prebiotic load by your choice of toast toppings, or sandwich fillings. Try topping a slice of toasted dark sourdough with cooked mushrooms and spring onions, and ‘health-up’ your normal ‘avo on toast’ by adding rocket leaves, fresh herbs and a sprinkle of pumpkin seeds. The best thing of all is that as well as supporting our internal health, our sourdough bread is delicious. Our moods improve when we enjoy what we’re eating and so now you can enjoy your GAIL’s loaves knowing your body and mind are going to be nourished.
Over the last year, we’ve been busy creating the most natural, unprocessed and nourishing recipes for our new loaves. Find out how we’ve changed our loaves here.
Thank you to our friends over at the londonfoodtherapy.com.